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Monday, February 19, 2007

NBA All-Star Game – Kobe gets what he deserves!

Once again, Kobe is an All-Star MVP. Much deserved, given his performance of 31 points, 6 assists, 6 steals, and 5 rebounds. An overall great game from Kobe, and the balance is indicative of the way he has performed. Let’s hope that bodes well for Kobe for the rest of the season and he can become the NBA’s season MVP for the first time in the career.

Although Kobe put on a spectacular display, including multiple impressive reverse slam dunks, Shaq and Dwight Howard just about stole the show. (Videos after the read more link)

Dwight Howard was robbed by the dunk legends with this dunk where he placed a sticker on the backboard at twelve and a half feet. That’s right, 12’ 6” – crazy, even for a 7-footer. Let’s hope David Stern lets him raise the rim next year.

Shaq’s break dancing was the moment with the best laughs for the all-star weekend from the NBA Jam Session. It was entertaining and he was crazy good!

Here’s the MVP story:
Kobe Awarded 2nd All-Star MVP
(AP) LAS VEGAS The first time Kobe Bryant won this award, he got booed in his hometown of Philadelphia.

He picked up his second Most Valuable Player trophy from the NBA All-Star game much closer to his West Coast home -- and the Los Angeles Lakers' guard got nothing but love in a city that adores its showmen.

Bryant had 31 points and six assists in the Western Conference's 153-132 victory Sunday night, leading a dominant offensive effort as a scorer and playmaker for a roster short on point guards.

Five years ago, Bryant also scored 31 points in the West's victory in Philadelphia -- but the famously crusty fans booed him
every time he touched the ball, eventually roaring their disapproval when the kid from the upper-class suburbs got his MVP

While declining to directly address the Philadelphia brouhaha, insisting "Philly was great," Bryant was determined to enjoy this moment under neon lights.

"As players, we always want to feel like we're appreciated for what we do," Bryant said. "To have this type of reaction here in
this All-Star game is very humbling. I just feel very blessed to be able to come out and put on a really good show."

Bryant was visibly shaken by that reaction in Philly -- but five years afterward, he got nothing but cheers all weekend long. The rehabilitation of Bryant's national image after his well-documented sexual-assault controversy also took yet another step forward with a sterling performance in the league's midseason showcase.

"He played within the flow of the game," fellow West starter Tracy McGrady said. "It wasn't like he was trying to take every
shot, come down and get his game off. He had a few assists. He played well. You couldn't tell he was going after the MVP."

That respect from his teammates was yet another sign of Bryant's growing maturity. And it didn't hurt that the nine-time All-Star was easily the Vegas crowd's favorite player, both at Saturday's competitions and in Sunday's showcase event.

Bryant judged the dunk competition after finishing second to Dwyane Wade in the skills competition, when the crowd even cheered him after he failed four straight times to make a simple chest pass through a hoop.

Though he jokingly professed to hate the idea of an NBA franchise in Las Vegas because southern Nevada is Lakers territory, it's clear Bryant would be welcome here in any uniform.

"We have two preseason games here normally, and they're extremely supportive here," Bryant said. "I definitely think they
could support (an NBA team)."

Bryant scored 17 points in the first half, doing his best to score over Dwyane Wade whenever possible -- including a dynamite 3-pointer in the Miami star's face late in the half. He went 8-for-14, also throwing down at least one rim-shaking dunk.

Bryant appeared to concentrate on playmaking in the second half, particularly when San Antonio's Tony Parker was out of the lineup.

Bryant finished with six steals and five rebounds in addition to his assists, which included a sweet pass for an alley-oop dunk by Shawn Marion.

"Kobe, regardless of how people feel about him, he's always going to be the fan favorite," Denver's Carmelo Anthony said. "He played great tonight. He deserved it."

With the crowd chanting "M-V-P" in the final minute, Bryant roared through the lane and threw down a vicious under-the-rim dunk over Chris Bosh's head. The shot might have cemented his win over Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire, who scored 29 points in his first All-Star appearance since recovering from microfracture knee surgery.

The crowd chanted Bryant's name again at the end.

"It was great," Bryant said. "I hope we can come back."